The Devil’s season mostly ended, or at least we had the farewell party, this past weekend.
The team was treated to an opportunity to take in the final game of the Clarkson Cup, the Canadian Women’s Hockey League’s equivalent of the Stanley Cup. The girls, in their dark jerseys, lined the glass at one end of the rink with inflated beater bats in hand to cheer on Montreal vs. Toronto. As Montreal took most of the play to Toronto in a lopsided 5-0 victory, our young ladies appeared to be cheering for the visiting side as they flashed up and down the ice in their familiar red, white and blue Montreal colours. The game action was impressive, despite the uneven score. There were some strong power moves, some very good saves and one beautiful top-shelf goal. The game no doubt gave our still-fresh athletes something to aspire to.
Post-game, we headed to a local rink for food, our own turn on the ice and some time to reflect on the season past.
After putting a pretty good dent in 11 pizzas, a veggie tray and a few 2L bottles of soda, the head coach took the stage to thank his many supporters and reward the kids with a medal for their efforts and a custom lithograph of the team he commissioned a local artist to produce – some lasting memories for our players who had worked hard and certainly improved throughout the year. The medals were a consolation for having narrowly missed the league finals and a spot in the provincial championships. They had certainly come as close as they could have, thus ensuring a successful season no matter the final result. In short, medals were well deserved.
Hockey mom and I, who have a standing tradition of turning the hundreds of candid action photos we take into year-end, sound-tracked video montages, shared our latest compilation. It’s always good to hear the kids and parents alike laughing at shared memories. DVD copies for nearly the whole team have been requested and will be delivered.
With full bellies, coaches and players took to the ice for a skills competition, complete with prizes for some added incentive, and a quick game of 3-on-3. The pressure of the last month’s games has long-since faded. The girls just had fun. More laughing as they rushed after loose pucks or issued fake body checks along the boards. The game had about 20 penalty shots which had some girls cursing their assistant coach turned ref. I will admit I’ve never seen two penalty shots called on one infraction, but we do know it never pays to argue with a ref.
The day was capped fittingly with cupcakes and well wishes. Some of these players will be on teams together again, while others may not. Overall, this will be a fine season full of positive experiences for them to recall. I believe the Devil would say the same.
The team actually still has some practice ice left over despite the end-of-the-year celebration. This season surplus will be used as tune-up ice for next season’s tryouts, which begin in a little over a month’s time. Just enough time to take a deep breath before starting all over again. Only this time it will all be a little different for yours truly – a hockey dad and a head coach. Perhaps a couple of deep breaths are in order.